Minstrels of the Ohio Ren Fest

Last weekend, my mom and I went to the Ohio Renaissance Festival in Harveysburg, OH – near Waynesville (north of Cincinnati) – for their Highland Weekend. As always, there were plenty of musical groups out and about playing. Some were set up under a tree and others played various stages throughout the realm.  Others marched around getting attention thanks to lots of bagpipes – including the Cincinnati Caledonian Pipes and Drums Band. We heard them at the end of the day by which time my phone’s battery was pretty much dead, so I didn’t get any pictures or recordings, but man! They were incredible. One piper was just a teenager and boy was he good!  We also saw the Tartan Terrors and listened to Albannach while walking around the village.  (You can’t NOT hear bagpipes!)

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This is my mom and Craig of Farrington, a passing minstrel flirting with the ladies!

Before we saw the pipers though, we enjoyed the group Father, Son and Friends playing some drinking songs at the Aleing Knight’s Pub. I missed the very beginning of this number so I don’t recall the name, but that’s OK – this gives you a great idea of the music they played. The fiddler is Mr. John Lardinois from the Dayton Philharmonic!

I was enjoying a Turkey Legge, so I propped my iPhone up on the not-quite-even table (thing) we were using to hold our lunches and cold beverages. Couldn’t avoid the background chatter / voices, so sorry about that, but it turned out ok!

Around the village

Moving around the village, called Willy Nilly on the Wash, we came across one of my favorites, Mr. Kyle Meadows.  He plays the hammered dulcimer and is at the Renaissance Festival each and every year.  This is Paddy O’Brian’s Jig.

I’ve bought one of his CDs before, but this year, he had a new CD of Christmas music which my mom bought – and to which we listened on the way home!  Sure, it’s only September, but we were in the mood!

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It’s amazing how light the hammers are and how easy it is to get a nice sound on it. Playing would just be a matter of learning where the notes are and fine-tuning your coordination. Kyle told us that he started playing the hammered dulcimer back in his 20s when he walked into a music store and thought it looked cool and sounded great. He bought one, taught himself and now plays all his own arrangements of the music he plays.

You just never know where a love of music will lead you.

If you’ve never been to one, you’d be surprised at how many really good musicians play at these festivals. Some do it just for fun a few weekends each year and others make a living working the renaissance circuit. One of my favorites – and one group I’ve never even seen – is Cantiga. I showed a video of them pulled off youtube a while back playing some early music that, more often than not, they get from partial manuscripts. They then do the research and finish the music up based on what the research shows it probably would have been back in the day. I sure would love for them to work their way north to the Ohio Ren Fest!

Ahh…memories!

Of course, I also wish the Minstrels of Mayhem (Ahem!) would make a comeback!

OK, fine.  Not a real video, but hey – it brings back memories!

Up top is a picture of Craig of Farrington, as passing minstrel flirting with all the ladies of the village! (Including my mom – also in the picture!) He’s one of the original members of the Minstrels of Mayhem (Ahem!) and a part of the recording linked above.

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